We’re Changing Our Family Traditions This Christmas. Here’s Why.

Family Traditions

Last year, my Christmas Day schedule went a little something like this:

8 a.m.: Exchange presents with my husband and our 5-month-old

9 a.m.: Pack up presents for my parents, along with approximately 3,000 bags/play yards/general baby items

9:30 a.m.: Lug baby, carrier, baby items and presents up three flights of stairs in approximately 500 trips

2:30 p.m.: Bring baby items, presents received, and oh yeah, the baby down three flights of stairs

3 p.m.: Arrive home to let the dog out, drop off new presents and pack up presents for husband’s side of the family, then turn around and leave again

3:30 p.m.: Unload baby, carrier, baby items and presents in approximately 500 more trips

7 p.m.: Pack up baby and baby items and presents received to go home and begin bedtime routine

7:01 p.m.: Promise to never do this again

Did I mention the middle of the night wake-up where my son was screaming so badly from over-stimulation that I almost took him to the emergency room?

These are the things I remember from last Christmas.

We vowed that this year would be different. Although now we can better anticipate what our child needs and what he doesn’t, and he’s a little older so we have less things to carry, the thought of running around until our heads spin once again was making me anxious about a holiday that used to make me happy. When it was just me and my husband, we put up with five Christmases in two days. I am constantly trying to please everyone, yet it never seems like it’s enough. Guess what? It’s my son’s first Christmas where he’ll understand what’s happening, and we’re going to do what he wants to do. (Open presents, eat everything in sight, play with toys, and spend quality time together.)

I want to remember little moments of my son staring at the presents under the tree in wonder. I want to remember him making my parents laugh with his dance moves to Christmas music. I want memories I can treasure, and I need the time and the ability to let my mind relax in order to make that happen. Christmas is about spending time with those you love, not biding your time until the next place you have to stop.

This year, we’re only going to one place on Christmas Day. It wasn’t a huge hit with everyone, but we put our foot down, and we made a new schedule work. We love our family and it’s important to see them all, but something had to give; I can’t make my own immediate family unhappy in order to make others happy. I encourage you to do the same: if there is something that irks you within your family traditions, change them! The happier you are, the more memories you’ll make with those who matter the most.

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Jessica Gomez
Mother of Ronan. Author of The Realist Bride. Writer of parenting, weddings, and horror. Aren't they all the same? Read more at writerjessicagomez.com, or follow me on Facebook.